Collecting Sea Glass - The Beaches Our Sea Glass Comes From

me-in-nags-head.jpgThe Origin Of Our Collection

I began collecting sea glass on the OBX (Outer Banks of North Carolina) and amassed a sizable personal collection of sea glass during our 20+ year residency. I spent thousands of hours and walked hundreds of miles in pursuit of these addictive beach gems. For the first several years of making sea glass jewelry, I personally collected all of my own sea glass.

In the mid 90's the OBX had 2 hurricanes hit back to back. They did not produce significant real estate damage or news attention but erased our pebble beds and sloughs (where most sea glass is found on the OBX) for more than 2 years. This was the time By The Sea Jewelry started to blossom and at this time we started to purchase and trade from reputable collectors.

sorting-blue-sea-glass-for-earrings-swatch.jpgNow we have amassed a collection of jewelry quality sea glass in the 1000 pound range. We have invested over $100K to provide our customers with the best sea glass in the world.

While this sounds or looks like a lot of sea glass, it can takes 100's upon 100's of pieces to find one matching pair.

Remember..............We leave our glass just the way it was found on the beach.

In acquiring so much glass over the years, we are also able to offer such rare earring matches such are reds, oranges and multi colored glass on our site.

We will still purchase or trade sea glass, if you are interested, drop us an email. A leader in the sea glass industry since the early 90's, By The Sea Jewelry is always striving to bring you new sea glass sources.

Purchasing Sea Glass

Our first large collection of glass not personally found was based out of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Sizable sea gems in a myriad of colors arrived to me by mail from a friend whose husband was a helicopter pilot for the border patrol.... we soon found others when her hubby was reassigned in San Diego.

Most of our best glass in these years came from Puerto Rico. One of my original signature designs (Our Original Wire Bezel Setting©) started with this glass as it tended to be thick and not suitable for a wire wrapped setting.

About this time, the selling of loose sea glass on the internet had started and we started purchasing from around the globe - Prince Edwards Island, California, Hawaii and just recently in the last 15 years England.

Today our collection has pieces of sea glass from every continent.

By The Seas Favorite Sea Glass - English Sea Glass

(A primer on English or Seaham Sea Glass)

aqua sea glass in pebbles on beach

Seaham England - English Sea Glass is by far my favorite and now dominates my work. We have acquired a large collection of these rare incredible sea glass gems.

We were the very FIRST company in the USA to incorporate this unaltered awesome sea glass into our jewelry. We have spent a great deal of time and money investing in our stock of this sea glass and we maintain the LARGEST collection of this fascinating sea glass in the country. This allows us to offer jewelry that is available nowhere else in the US.

Sea glass from Seaham beach now tends to be smaller than many of the pieces we own, though beautiful colors are still found.

(To see some of our best multis and English glass, try looking in our Ultra Rare sections for Earrings and Pendants made from English Multis. By The Sea Jewelry also uses Seaham glass in our Limited Edition pieces.)

Seaham Beach From CausewaySeaham is a small coastal town in the North East of England not far from Sunderland and Newcastle in Durham County, famed for its glass making history. Though glass making in England dates back to the Romans, glass dating from the mid 1800's is a more likely source for this amazing English sea glass.

Seaham is also the home of the now famed and much sought after Multi colored sea glass (or Multis) and as far as we know, one of only three sources in the WORLD for mixed multi-color NATURAL Sea Glass. Before we starting selling English sea glass, this glass was only known to a few. We are proud to have had a hand in creating a cottage industry in this small seaside hamlet.

Glass Making in The Region

There were many glass companies throughout in this region but, due to tides, wind and geography, this small stretch of beach yields sea glass from Victorian Era Glass factories. These art glass factories around the Tyne and Wear River practiced many forms of decorative glassware and this tiny nook of a beach in Seaham, right in the downtown off the promenade of this quiet village provides some of the finest sea glass in the world.

The North Sea is as treacherous, turbulent and rocky. During storms, great boulders sometimes get washed up on the town promenade. Seaham Beach during storm - Photo curtosey of North News & PicturesThe constant wave action and rocky beaches are the perfect formula for top grade sea glass.

End Of Day Glass (or .....EndODay coined by us in 2004) is heavily frosted sea gems of distinctive quality.

The glass production in the area was strongest during the late 1800's to the early industrial era. Sunderland, the closest city still houses the National Glass Centre. They display the various wares made in the region during this period.

The large coal pockets below the city and a large accessible harbor made this a perfect region for glass production. Many glass houses existed during the period. In town, the famous Londonderry Bottleworks was the largest bottle manufacturer in England turning out over 20,000 handblown bottles a day. Back then of course, most everything came in glass.

There are several types of glass from this area. Large rounded single colors or Bubbles and Boulders, Fisheyes, Marbles, Flash Glass and the much sought after Multi's.

Multi Or End Of Day Sea Glass

"Ultra Rare English Sea Glass MultisEnd Of Day Glass" - (how the term came about).

While conversing with our Brit friend about the origins of this glass....(She simply called it sea glass) I wanted to know more about why this beach yielded some of the most unique sea glass in the world.

When I described it as "Slag" Glass (a term I was familiar with having family in Coal mining regions)........I was quickly told by my "friend" that "SLAG" was a derogatory term in the UK.....I was familiar with glass making and the term and I came up with in 2004 WAS "End Of Day Sea Glass". End Of Day Sea Glass (or EndODay) is now a common term for Multi Sea Glass from Seaham England.


True End Of Day Glass

End Of Day Glass Vase

true-end-of-day-sea-glass.jpgTraditionally though, "End Of Day" glass in glass making is where glass frits (small bits of ground colored glass) are incorporated into and final end piece producing a multi colored effect. Some End of Day glass used white or milk glass with left over glass colors. English End Of Day sea glass is seldom like true "End Of Day Glass" in collecting.

End Of Day glass is still produced by modern glass makers like the vases pictured here.

True End Of Day sea glass IS found on this beach (right picture), but it is much more rare than even the lovely multis.

Types Of English Sea Glass (Seaham Sea Glass)

There are several different distinct types of sea glass that come from this beach.

Various colors of sea glass bubbles from EnglandModern Slag or Cullet Glass In Various ColorsBoulders and Bubbles - Most always, these are single color pieces that started as huge pieces of slag or cullet glass. These "lumps" of glass once discarded into the sea, have rolled around for over 100 years. This is why boulder or bubble characteristics are that they are very round and sometimes very large.

Slag glass (pictured here) can still be purchased today from modern glass companies and is often used in aquariums for display or in landscaping.

We use bubbles in our minimal bezel setting and our NEW Deluxe Wire Bezel setting where a silver Bezel is fashioned to the exact size of the glass. Most bubbles are too round for most jewelry applications and tend to fracture when drilled.

MORE ON Multi Seaham Sea Glass

8-color-pastel-multi-sea-glass.jpgMulti's - There are various theories on how Multi's came to be. We incorrectly reported this glass (see above) to be purposefully mixed at the "End Of The Day' either worked by glass workers as practice or simply combined in one vat as waste is now widely spread on the internet to describe Seaham Sea glass. Because of the total randomness of the colors in multis, we now believe that this is an INCORRECT definition of how this glass came to be.

NEW -  Since first acquiring this glass and posting the term End Of Day (or EndoDay) sea glass, we have consulted with many glass makers, both in England and the United States. Our correction the to END OF DAY or Seaham Sea Glass is as follows:

Glass in its raw form is a pale green. In most glass making, colorants and bleaches are used make the glass turn different hues. 

The colorant is added when the glass is molten or flowing. Raw silica and soda is an off-color greenish white. The minerals added to glass when it is flowing are: Cobalt for blue, Gold for red, Copper for greens, and various mineral oxides. (see for more information on glass colors)

A crucible near the kiln is used for the mixing of the mineral and glass. These layers build up on the sides of the crucible. This crucible is usually not cleaned in between batches, production types or even weeks. The various colors become layered on the sides of the crucible. When the crucible IS cleaned and discarded (in the Seaham Sea glass case) into nearby tributaries and into the sea, these fascinating sea glass gems result.

Nowhere in the world can this type of sea glass be found other than this small region.

The best Multi's are those with 3 or more colors, and our favorites are cross sectioned pieces (shown left above) where the colors are cross sectioned inside the glass instead of layered one on top of another.

The rarest Seaham Multis we have seen have a rainbow of hues and layers!

Another possible origin of this multi glass is from waste gathered when glass is cut. Yes! When glass is molten, artists will sometimes use scissors to shape and cut off excess glass. This glass may accumulate and as it is mixed with other colors, becomes a discard.

NOTE - We only drill certain types of pieces of this sea glass. Multis were UNTEMPERED glass, meaning not cooled at a slow rate. Because of this, the crystalline structure of the glass is not as stable as tempered glass. This can cause multi sea glass to break, sometimes days, weeks or months later. We also consider is a crime to drill such lovely amazing pieces. The larger the sea glass piece, the more likely this will occur. Our smaller drilled pieces have been tempered after being drilled.

Pontil Pieces

A piece of sea glass from Seaham England that was once a pontil tipimage-of-hot-glass-on-punty-or-pontil.jpgPontil pieces (as I refer to them) Or Fisheyes (as they are called in Seaham) are usually clear glass with a tip of color used to tip a punty or pontil rod (This is the metal rod used to gather glass in the kiln).

Pictured right is an example of hot glass on a punty rod. The glowing part is the pontil piece.

Clear glass was the cheapest and therefore dominates the fisheyes found in this area, however, occasionally brightly colored fisheyes bases are found.

We have several in our personal collection where the bases are hues of aqua and blue, light blues and greens.

In a fisheye piece, you can see how the glass was pulled before being snapped off for final finishing. The center of the glass remained hot and therefore stretched more as the outside cooled and was more stable. Most fisheye or pontil pieces from Seaham have this characteristic though many are just a hint of color on a tip of white.

It is many years of glass knowledge that led me to this conclusion and though this is just MY theory,,,,Fisheyes may have originated in a different way. It seems though to be the most accepted theory throughout the sea glass community and among glass experts.

I firmly though believe that due the thickness of most Fisheyes or Pontil pieces, that they were indeed punty tips. Unfortunately, the affirmation of this knowledge has passed with the generation of glass makers that produced these discards.

Most sea glass experts, jewelry artists and collections seem to agree in whole or portions of our theory and many have used it on websites and in articles to describe this unique sea glass.

Flashed Glass

A typical flashed glass window popular in Englandflashed-english-end-of-day-sea-glass.jpgFlashed Glass - So popular in Victorian English windows Flash Glass (pictured left) is where one color of glass is layered on top of another, then carved to reveal a contrasting pattern.

Flash glass was also used in decorative house wares (left - Victorian Glass Set) such as vases and bowls and other decorative glass wares.

Flash sea glass in distinctly 2 colors (rarely 3) and an even usually flat surface. We also collect Flash Sea Glass from Southern England.

Flashed Seaham sea glass tends to be flatter. This indicates that it was most likely window glass color where glass was rolled on top of each other.

Whimsies - Friggers and Other Pieces

small-sea-glass-dump found on blast beach seaham englandglass-whimsey-canes-small.jpgWhimsies or Friggers and other fascinating specimens can be found in Seaham. In glass making these were usually items made by workers at the end of the day to practice their trade.

Items such as glass canes and pipes (impractical but pretty), pitchy dobbers (flat pressed glass used in game like hop scotch) and glass dumps, paper weights with designs blown inside (see our personal find of a sea glass flower dump - pictured left with a Victorian Dump). 

These are sometimes also called End Of Day pieces as they were made with glass that would have been "dumped" out at the end of the production day. Pieces of failed attempts of these items can sometimes be found on the beaches in this area.

codd-bottle.jpgSea Glass Marbles - also abound on this beach and originate mainly from Codd bottles. These bottles had an internal marble that was pushed to the top of the bottle by the carbonation, thus sealing the opening.

These were also made locally, Villa Pop, a Sunderland company who started making soda in the late 1800's, made codd bottles from 1900 to 1912, which gives those marbles a direct date.

The wares that were made in these and around Seaham varied throughout time and the sea glass found there tells their tales.

As a decorative or art glass factory which yielded incredible colors of glass in pinks, baby blues in the Deco Period to specimens of Victorian decorative artifacts can be seen at The National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

In later years, less glamorous objects such as bottles, television tubes (producing a thick gray blue sea glass), and more common colors such as olives and ambers that have distinct color unlike any found anywhere else in the world.

Though the bottle factory also produced the common colors of sea glass, the quality is far better than any we have ever seen because of the conditions of the North Sea.

To view our English Sea Glass from Seaham England, you can check this LINK!



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